Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Michigan at Ohio State — The Game — Wrap-up
Michigan fans can be proud of the hard play of Michigan for almost every play on Saturday. Probably the opposite can be said for the decisions that the Michigan staff made on the offensive end in the second half of the game.
Greg Mattison took a group of average athletes and contained Braxton Miller very well. Miller hurt Michigan more with his arm than his legs. Ohio State knowing the speed and athletic advantage held between the players, went for the edge and Philly Brown was the big recipient. Ohio State’s much maligned offensive line of last year is big and strong, all four or five star recruits, this group pushed the two wide spread defensive tackles back and the middle linebackers of Michigan were not big enough or strong enough to counter. As result, Carlos Hyde had a monster day on isoblasts and inside reads. There was little the Michigan defense could do as containing Miller had to be the number one priority.
Jake Ryan and Frank Clark demonstrated great play ability and will probably be early choices for all BIG next season. Ramon Taylor showed he can play with skilled athletes on the big stage. Except for J. T. Floyd getting turned on a predicted post pattern, the secondary did not play badly. Fans may point to the numbers of Braxton Miller through the air and say the secondary did not do well. But Miller had tons of time for most of the day, except when Mattison dialed up some nice blitzes. Michigan gave up short passes but kept Ohio State contained except for the one early play.
The only not so shining moment was when Ohio State was allowed to go down the field at the end of the first half and score the late field goal. The defense gave up the short sideline and allowed Ohio State too much real estate.
The offense hit big plays in the first half. When given time, Devin did a nice job of hitting his targets. Ohio State, like Notre Dame, came straight up the middle to apply hard pressure on the quarterback. Denard was used sparingly but effectively in the first half, using his feet to get upfield and making plays. That pretty much disappeared in the second half.
In the second half bad coaching decisions by Coach Hoke and Coach Borges gave Ohio State the edge to obtain victory. John Madden would not be proud of how unintelligence was applied.
Ohio State has made its name and won close games for the last two decades by making key defensive plays, especially against the run: please see the game film from last week against Wisconsin. In a state of unexplained ego, Hoke went for a 4th and three on Michigan’s side of the field. To make matters worse a simple blast up the middle yielded nothing. This line has been unable to run the ball against any type of competition for five years in such situations, having instead to play fake and hit the edge. Ohio State sent about 15 players into the line and the result was predictable.
Sitting in two similar situations later in the half, Michigan again, stubbornly and egotistically, tried to run on short yardage against a stacked defense. The loss of Fitz would have made no difference in the final result from this viewpoint.
Michigan’s quarterbacks turned the ball over three times in the second half, pretty much killing offensive chances. It is hard to fault Devin Gardner on his first true game on the big stage, but he needs to play better in big games. He almost neutralized the play of Miller.
Gardner took off running and secured a first down running late in the game, only to have a first and twenty occur from a holding call. Things like that happen and are part of the game, but poor intelligence is controllable.Mike Jones launching and laying out an Ohio State player for a fifteen-yard personal foul was past a poor decision, it was pain selfish and stupid mistake by a player that you shouldn’t be talking about being at best a special teams players. It will give some ammo that Michigan is a dirty team, which is untrue.
At the end game, Devin Gardner was in the game, but strangely, a guy named Denard Robinson was missing. Was Denard injured, or was this part of a package? Any time Denard is on the field he must be accounted for by the defense. Would it not make sense to have Denard as a ball carrier or a decoy rather than Thomas Rawls from a tight I formation against a ton of defensive talent? The possible explanation is that Denard simple could not block. And that would make sense, but why have one of the most dangerous players in college football block?Between the player mistakes and the coaching mishaps, Ohio State was given enough of an edge to pull off the win.
What does this mean? Plenty, and most of it was negative. Let us start with the positive, mostly already known. First, Michigan kids were not intimidated and played very hard. They were outmatched somewhat, and only somewhat, athletically, and Ohio State has the impact skilled players and defensive backfield that Michigan has sought. Still, even being on the road, these kids did not give an inch.
Second, Greg Mattison is an absolute gem and deserves all the accolades thrown his way, albeit he would trade all of the fluff for a win in this game. His back, and the defense, were put in bad positions much of the game and held the fort enough to give the offense a chance to pull out a win.
Third, as mentioned, Devin Gardner played average (3 turnovers — 2 fumbles and 1 interception), and played his best when the Ohio State defense had to worry about the total offense in the first half. He missed some passes, but more often than not, he was pressured and/or the Ohio State defensive backs had very good coverage. He needs to learn that Ohio State is different than Minnesota or Iowa and you cannot float the ball to the receivers because the Ohio State defenders are to good of athletes and can make up a lot of ground in a hurry.
Last, the special teams, minus Jones, did a great job of containing some dangerous kick returners. Hopefully this continues
The bad is both bad and ugly. Michigan’s coaching staff let ego get in the way of making common, smart decisions. Going on the 4th and 3 was worse than a gamble, it was a blunder that the entire sports world could see and judge. The play selection after having some very make-able opportunities to move the chains speak volumes as mentioned above. Michigan did not even have a scoring opportunity the entire second half, and the Ohio State players were the same as the first half. The true difference was how the Michigan coaches called the game and the mistakes from the quarterbacks (4 turnovers).This will feed the Buckeye machine and Urban’s mania ego. This is, according to him, now one of the greatest Ohio State teams ever, and Michigan made it possible. He promised big results and Michigan let him get his coronation. This could cause Michigan great hurt in the future. This is a school where only winning counts as evidenced by the glorious celebration of Jim Tressel. Do you think such an event would have happened at Michigan? And now Ohio State will spread the word they are on track for national titles, three in the next five years is the prediction by many in Columbus. And Michigan let it happen.
Michigan may have thought that it was playing with house money going for 4th and 3, that it really did not matter, the bowl game day and destination was locked. If so, this miscalculation could have a large negative affect for the immediate future.
For the most part, discounting the physical mistakes that happen, and the mental mistake that should never have happened, the players did their part. Will this team fold up the tent in the bowl game? Better not, because the Wolverines will likely play an SEC team that is better than Ohio State. These guys have been through a lot and will probably circle the wagons and play tough. Will Michigan go back to the Denard centered offense of the previous two years, or put in the offense of the future?
It will be critical for Michigan to regroup. But the coaches may have some sleepless nights and be hard pressed to explain the obvious gaffes.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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